Simple Way To Find A Roof Leak & Prevent A ‘Catastrophe’

roof with chimneyIf you have recently discovered water stains that extend across ceilings or run down walls, the culprit is probably a roof leak. While tracking down the leak can sometimes be the hard part; the fixes are generally pretty easy though not always cheap. Below is a relatively simple way to locate the cause of a roof leak that most any person can do with minimal roofing or construction knowledge. 
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Home Fire Safety

October: National Fire Prevention Month
Would you know what to do if a fire started in your home? Would your children? Last week schools across the country participated in activities related to National Fire Prevention Week. If your kids are anything like mine, they came home with a wealth of knowledge and even some funny stories.  Continue reading 

Risk of Damage from Natural Hazards By State

Are you safe where you live? Find out in the article below whether you live in an area at risk for Natural Hazards.

Risk of Damage from Natural Hazards By State
 
Florida, Rhode Island, Louisiana, California and Massachusetts are the top 5 states for exposure to multiple natural hazards, according to an analysis by CoreLogic, a property data and analytics firm.
Michigan, West Virginia, New York, North Dakota and Vermont have the lowest score for exposure to multiple hazards, the report said.

 

 
The analysis was derived from the CoreLogic Hazard Risk Score (HRS), a new tool that gathers data on multiple natural hazard risks and combines them into a single score ranging from 0 to 100. The overall score indicates risk exposure at the individual property and location level.
 
For every geo-coded location across the U.S, the proprietary CoreLogic HRS is compiled using data representing nine natural hazards: flood, wildfire, tornado, storm surge, earthquake, straight-line wind, hurricane wind, hail and sinkhole.
 
Alaska and Hawaii were not included due to limited natural hazard risk data, CoreLogic said.
 
Locations with higher risk levels are exposed to multiple hazard risks and will, therefore, receive higher scores when the risk analysis is aggregated. Subsequently, locations with minimal risk levels have lower exposure and receive lower scores. Geo-coded locations are generated at the property-address level using latitude and longitude coordinates and include both residential and commercial properties.
 
 
“Florida’s high level of risk is driven by the potential for hurricane winds and storm surge damage along its extensive Atlantic and Gulf coastline, as well as the added potential for sinkholes, flooding and wildfires. Michigan alternatively ranks low for most natural hazard risks, other than flooding,” said Dr. Howard Botts, vice president and chief scientist for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions.
 
In calculating the overall score, both the probability of an event and the frequency of past events are significant contributing factors used to determine risk levels associated with individual hazards, as well as each distinct hazard’s risk contribution to total loss. The data is combined into an aggregated, consistent and normalized value that allows statistically valid combinations to be derived.
 
“In the past, natural hazards have been difficult to compare and combine in a meaningful way,” said Dr. Botts. He said the new Hazard Risk Score is a “single solution” that measures risk concentration consistently and pinpoints the riskiest places in the U.S. with accuracy.
 
“This insight is critical in conducting comparative risk management nationwide and fully understanding exposure to potential natural hazard damage,” he said.
 
CoreLogic says the score can be used to improve decision-making in a variety of business operations, including:
 
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery planning
  • Analyzing risk associated with a residential property or portfolios of properties
  • Measuring mitigation savings vs. total hazard potential damage
  • Evaluating and determining natural hazard risk levels of distribution and supplier networks
  • Recognizing which underinsured or uninsured properties may become at risk of default
  • Adverse selection avoidance and identification of “good risk” properties
 
 
U.S. Natural Hazard Risk by State*  (Ranked by CoreLogic Hazard Risk Score)
 
Rank  State   HRS
1           FL         94.51
2           RI         79.67
3           LA        79.23
4           CA        75.56
5           MA       72.12
6           KS        69.51
7           CT        69.04
8           OK       66.82
9           SC        66.38
10         DE       65.38
11         OR       64.89
12         NJ        61.54
13         IA        61.02
14         TX       60.89
15         NC       59.72
16         MO      57.81
17         DC       57.33
18         MS       57.05
19         AR       56.7
20         NH       55.3
21         ID        52.75
22         MD      52.28
23         CO       51.88
24         NE       51.86
25         IL         51.8
26         IN        50.74
27         GA       50.58
28         NV       50.12
29         AL       49.42
30         KY       47.34
31         TN       46.48
32         UT       45.22
33         NM      43.76
34         AZ       42.81
35         VA       42.35
36         WA      42.3
37         WI        38.52
38         SD        38.24
39         MT       37.91
40         MN      36.42
41         OH       34.61
42         ME       31.64
43         WY      30.24
44         PA        28.79
45         VT       28.31
46         ND       27.5
47         NY       24.97
48         WV      20.67
49         MI        20.22
Source: CoreLogic 2014
* AK and HI were excluded in the ranking due to limited natural hazard risk data
 
Article Originally Published By: Insurance Journal
 
*The posting of this article is for informational purposes only, as a courtesy to our reading audience. Provencher & Company does not own, has in no way been compensated for the sharing of this information, and content of said article belongs to that of the originating author. The use of or enrollment in any classes, seminars, training, etc. in no way constitutes or implies any endorsement of the provider of said programs. Provencher & Company shares no financial obligation to attendee or organizer.

8 Ways to Prepare Your Property for Winter

By: Julie Rock-Chatellier
 

As property owners we’re often faced with the tougher realities of the changing seasons. A heavy snowfall doesn’t just mean a day off of school or work; it can also mean an overworked furnace, a power outage, damage to a roof, and even burst pipes. All of these situations cause damage to our homes or business, then in-turn create a call to an insurance agent or company to file a claim.  

Let’s also not forget about rising energy costs: According to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Americans spend almost twice as much of their income on energy as they did a decade ago. From the Northern Pacific, down to the Gulf Coast, and back north to the New England state – our wallets are all taking a hard hit to stay warm and to protect our property from damages. It’s a necessary evil we all face!

While we can’t always predict what Old Man Winter will send our way, we can take a few precautions to ensure we spend less time cleaning up weather-induced messes, filing insurance claims, and fretting over utility bills and more time building sledding ramps & snowmen in the back yard.

Below are 8 of the top things you can do to protect your property investment from damage during the winter months. A little time and/or money spent up front can eliminate your need to call upon your insurance provider as a result of damage. Remember, wear and tear is NOT a covered cause of loss! 

 
Tune Up Your Heating System
Before winter arrives, the most important thing you need to do for yourself, your family and your employees is to ensure that your furnace is operational, safe, and as energy-efficient as you can make it. For about $100, a technician can inspect your boiler, furnace or heat pump ensuring the system is clean, working properly, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection will also measure carbon-monoxide leakage. Side note: Do you have carbon-monoxide detectors in addition to your smoke detectors installed?
 
By scheduling that inspection now, you’ll minimize the chance of being 100th caller in line for repairs on the coldest day of the year. Look for a heating and air-conditioning contractor that belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and technicians certified by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) program. 


Hit the Roof
Grab a ladder and take to the roof – or, if you are terrified of heights like I am, break out the binoculars and give it a good look. Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow.

“Roof deficiencies are the most common problem reported by home inspection associations,” says the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association. “Thirty percent of real estate inspection claims are due to roof leaks and water penetration,” the group says. “Thirty nine percent of homeowner’s insurance claims are because of roof problems.”
 
A simple cleaning with a broom or blower is all that is generally necessary. If your roof is flat and surfaced with asphalt and pebbles, rake or blow off fall leaves and pine needles, which hold moisture. If need be, hire a handyman to repair a few shingles or a roofer for a larger section. Be sure to check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys.


Clean the Gutters

Every winter there are billions of dollars in insured losses due to burst pipes, frozen gutters and other weather-related disasters. If your gutters are full of debris, water can back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim – plus cause leaks and ice dams.

If you have a low-sloped roof, even a leaf protection system cannot prevent debris from accumulating on your roof, so with or without a leaf protection system, roof maintenance is required. Remove leaves, acorns, sticks and other debris from gutters, so melting snow and ice can flow freely. Also look for missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards and repair them.

If you choose to call in a professional maintenance service, you’ll typically pay $70 to $225 to clean gutters on a single-story house, depending on its size and your geographical location. 
 
Call a Chimney Sweep
Proper chimney preparations will not only help to cut your energy costs but will also help to keep you and your family safer. Besides – who likes to see a dirty looking chimney? 

Before you put the first log in for the winter, make sure your fireplace, chimney and vents are clean and are in no need of repair. This will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home. 
 
Just like with any other “seasonal” type service provider, as the weather turns cooler chimney sweeps start booking up. Search for a sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America to ensure your service provider is the best available. CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps are regularly tested on their understanding of the complexities of chimney and venting system. You can expect to pay $50 to $90 for an inspection to see if you need a cleaning, and $100 to $300 for the cleaning. Source: Costowl.com

Clean chimneys don’t catch fire. Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people. If you’re wondering how often you should have your chimney cleaned, a good rule of thumb is every three to five cords of wood that you burn. It depends on the size of your fireplace or wood stove though.

Prevent Ice Dams
An ice dam can damage both your roof and the inside of your home and will also put gutters and downspouts at risk of collapsing under the weight. Insurance claim waiting to happen, right?

My grandmother always said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and if you have ever experienced an ice dam on your roof you are likely shaking your head in agreement on that statement. What do you do to prevent an ice dam? Well — Be sure to have a professional inspect and seal all areas where warm air may leak from inside your home/busines going into the spaces immediately below the roof sheathing. Insulating the living or work area and venting the space between the insulation and the roof sheathing (so any heat that does leak through is carried away) are also essential elements to preventing ice dams from forming.

A weatherization contractor can identify and fix air leaks and inadequate insulation in your home’s attic that can lead to ice dams. If you have the work done before December 31, you can claim the federal energy-efficiency tax credit for 10% of the cost (excluding installation), up to $500. Your state or utility may offer a rebate, too.

If your home had lots of icicles last winter – or worse, ice dams, which can cause meltwater to back up and flow into your house – take steps now to prevent potential damage this year.
 
 
Caulk Around Windows and Doors
With the rising cost of heating, who wants to let their money float out through the cracks? If the gaps between siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. 

Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements. Try using a “rain ready” silicone caulk for best results. Check window-glazing putty, too (which seals glass into the window frame). Add weatherstripping as needed around doors, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home.

Of course, if your windows are older than 10 years or are single-paned glass, you probably should think about replacing them for the energy-efficient ones currently on the market. Windows are not cheap, though, so you might have to replace them over a period of time – unless your last name is Rockefeller or Gates.
 
 
Exposed Exterior Water Sources
Property owners are encouraged to take precautions to winterize their outdoor pipes to save time, money, and water. According to sources at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, most in-ground pipes will be OK during the winter, since typically only the top two inches of ground will freeze in Georgia. Source: http://www.hcwsa.com

Undrained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you leave your garden hose attached to the faucet, you’re asking for trouble.
 
Determine if your faucet is frost-free or not. To know for sure whether a faucet is frost-free or not, look up inside the spout. On a frost-free faucet, all you’ll be able to see is a metal stem.  On a faucet that isn’t frost free, you’ll be able to see the valve components open and close when the handle is turned.  If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes more than ten to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home. 

Drain Your Lawn-Irrigation System
Every year, before the first freeze, the ritual of irrigation “blow out” becomes the priority for all irrigation systems in regions located where the frost level extends below the depth of installed piping.

Even if you have drained the water out of your irrigation system, some water remains and can freeze, expand, and crack PVC piping. To minimize the risk of freeze damage, you’ll need to winterize your irrigation system. In areas where winterization is mandatory, irrigation systems are installed using one of three types of water removal: manual drain, auto drain, or blowout. If you don’t know your system type, it is best to use the blowout method.

But, to be on the safe side, this is one area of winterization that it is always best to call in a professionals to do the job. Your sprinkler service will charge $50 to $150, depending on the size of the system.
 

Insurance shouldn’t be looked at as a maintenance policy and property owners should do all they can do to avoid damage. Likewise, once damage does occur, it is the property owners’ responsibility to prevent any further damage to the best of their ability. 

Depending on which insurance you have, you could be financially responsible for the roof destruction caused by winter storms. Every insurance company is different and property owners’ need to know completely what their policy states.


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About Julie Rock-Chatellier
As Claim Manager and adjuster for Provencher & Company, Julie assures the claims process transpires smoothly and timely with both our adjusters and clients throughout the course of managing our claim assignments; overseeing the claims support staff, examiners and trainers in our National Claim Center.

Julie also serves as the claim system administrator and website & social media coordinator for Provencher & Company. Having over 18 years experience in office management, bookkeeping and customer account management, she has served in staff and management assignments in various industries, gaining a working, practical knowledge of marketing & account administration.

 
 

Home Insurance Liability Coverage And Bees

Summer time is full of picnics, fun times and outside activities. While out on her patio, a next door neighbor is stung by a bee and notices that you have a huge beehive hanging from an overhang. The neighbor says she is calling a lawyer to sue you for her injuries. Should you be worried? See the attached article for one insurance advisor’s opinion.
Homeowners liability coverage: Can it handle bees?
By Jack Hungelmann • Bankrate.com
Dear Insurance Adviser,
We have a honey bee hive on our roof that is home to a couple dozen bees, and we recently were told by a neighbor that she would be contacting her attorney because she got stung. These bees have never bothered us at all. If she sues us, would the liability coverage in our home insurance take care of any or all of the lawyer’s fees? What about any damages?
— Sally
Dear Sally,
Good news! Home insurance policies pretty much universally include worldwide personal liability coverage to a limit of at least $100,000 for any damages. Defense costs are covered separately and completely until the full liability limit has been paid to the injured party.
Limits higher than $100,000 are available at minimal extra cost. For example, the additional cost to raise the limit to $500,000 is as low as $20-$30 a year. Additional liability coverage is one of the best buys in the insurance business. The extra liability protection comes with continued defense coverage until the higher limit has been paid in damages.
As an aside, it doesn’t seem like your neighbor has much of a case. You’re not raising bees and don’t have a honey-making operation. You are just a homeowner peacefully coexisting with nature. Some bees have adopted your roof as their home.
Where is the negligence? Even if it’s true that one of your bees did sting her, she would have to prove that the guilty bee came from your hive. Good luck with that!
I hope that helps.
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Ask the adviser
To ask a question of the Insurance Adviser, go to the “Ask the Experts” page and select “Insurance” from the drop-down box. Read more Insurance Adviser columns.
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*The posting of this article is for informational purposes only, as a courtesy to our reading audience. Provencher & Company does not own, has in no way been compensated for the sharing of this information, and content of said article belongs to that of the originating author. The use of or enrollment in any classes, seminars, training, etc. in no way constitutes or implies any endorsement of the provider of said programs. Provencher & Company shares no financial obligation to attendee or organizer.

Failure to File a Proof of Loss is Fatal

shutterstock_153125888If you think a proof of loss is just a piece of paper that is required by insurance companies, think again.  As the following policy holder found out, failing to complete that proof of loss can have wide-reaching effects. 

 
 

Failure to File a Proof of Loss is Fatal, and the Defense Does Not Require a Showing of Prejudice

by Dick Bennett

On June 3, Connecticut’s intermediate level appellate court held that the failure of a policyholder to file a sworn statement in proof of loss was fatal to his claim.  Palkimas v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 150 Conn.App. 655, 2014 Conn.App. LEXIS 244 (June 3, 2014) rejected the insured’s arguments that prejudice need be shown, holding that while the insurance company may well need to make a showing of prejudice in cases involving the belated submission of a proof, its burden to make such a showing never arises in cases in which the insured has never submitted such a document.

Richard Palkimas was insured under a homeowner’s policy issued by State Farm Fire & Casualty Company, and he sustained two losses.  The first occurred in September 2006, “when workers negligently used a toilet that had been blocked off resulting in a buildup of sewage, and the breaking and rupturing of a sanitary pipe, as well as the spreading of sewage and fecal matter throughout the home.”  Then in January of the following year, the policyholder discovered that “freezing temperatures caused substantial damage to [his] home, including fracturing of the plaster walls and building structure.”

The insured made claim for both events, and he hired a public adjuster to negotiate with State Farm on his behalf.  It was undisputed, however, that he never filed a sworn statement in proof of loss in connection with either claim.  The insurer ultimately denied coverage for both, contending that the policyholder’s failure to submit a proof meant that he had failed to satisfy a condition precedent to coverage under the contract of insurance. Read Entire Article

Social Media Thieves

 

Wow! Everyone is using social media. Isn’t it great?


Well apparently some less honorable folks have found a way to better time a robbery – when you’ve just told everyone on your social media website that you off for 3 days in Lake Wherever.
The statistics in this article reflect that summer time in Canada, especially Friday evenings, are the best times to break into a residence.
Be careful with what you post to the public!
 

Thieves Use Social Media to Plan Summer Home Burglaries

Data from Aviva Canada shows that residential burglary claims increase dramatically over the summer months. Compared to February – which has the lowest frequency of burglaries – July, August and September show an increase of 24 percent, 36 percent and 18 percent respectively. Read Entire Article 

Got Damage? What Every Insured Should Know

 
If your property is damaged by a hurricane, tornado, hailstorm or similar disaster, here is what you should do to assure quick handling of your insurance claim: 

 

1. Assess the damage to the best of your ability and be prepared to give an accurate description of the amount and type of damage. Make sure you state whether the premises were rendered inhabitable as a result of the damages. This will allow your company to send out an adjuster with the appropriate level of experience, based on the level of damage.

2. Notify your insurance carrier or agent as soon as possible. The insurance contract requires notification as soon as possible after a loss. Be sure to leave a telephone number where you can be contacted and a complete address of the location so the company can get an adjuster to the scene quickly. Be sure to stay in touch with your adjuster and respond to calls promptly.Catastrophes can generate hundreds of claims, so communication and cooperation is vital for a quick resolution to your claim. 

3. If debris (such as a fallen tree or downed power line) prevents access to the covered property, or if such debris could increase your damage, tell your agent when you report the loss. 

4. Make whatever temporary repairs are necessary to prevent further damage, theft, or vandalism. Repairs of this kind could include boarding up broken windows and covering holes in the roof with temporary materials. Making temporary repairs is required by the insurance company, and is good advice regardless (your insurance will usually cover the reasonable cost of temporary 
repairs). DO NOT make permanent repairs to your damaged property unless the adjuster has reviewed your claim and given you permission to restore your property. 

5. Photograph damaged areas prior to making temporary repairs if possible. Doing so will strengthen your claim and help with the presentation of your loss. 

6. If you can, get one or two detailed estimates for permanent repairs from a reliable contractor, and give these estimates to the adjuster. Beware of “fly-by-night” operators who often follow a storm into town. Check with the Better Business Bureau before doing business with any vendor you don’t know. Keep in mind that public adjusters are illegal in some states. 

7. Refrain from signing any contract for restoration or repairs prior to discussing it with your company adjuster. Your adjuster can play a key role in helping you avoid price gouging after a catastrophe, but he/she won’t be able to negotiate a reasonable price for services if you’ve already signed a contract. 

8. Prepare an inventory of all damaged or destroyed property for the adjuster. Be sure to keep a copy for your records, and be sure NOT to discard ANY items before the adjuster is given a reasonable amount of time to inspect them.

9. Collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other documents that will help the adjuster place a proper value on damaged or destroyed property. Keep ALL receipts and invoices for EVERY expense you incur after the loss, including items such as tarps, boards, cleaning supplies, etc. 

10. It is always a good idea to read through your policy and review coverage and exclusions prior to a claim so you will know what to expect. Have a list of your property prior to a loss: You could have a lot of seemingly insignificant items and supplies, but those items add up quickly! 

Warning 

Unlicensed or unscrupulous persons may pose as adjusters or, being an adjuster, may pose a threat to consumers. Public adjusters, in particular, may pose a problem since they don’t work for any company or company-adjusting firm. Unlicensed public adjusters have not demonstrated their competency to adjust claims nor have they posted the required surety bond. You are encouraged to report any such activity to local authorities. Please caution any clients that, if they contract with a public adjuster, they are authorizing the claim check to be made payable to both themselves or a mortgagee and the adjuster.



Reprint from:
Natalie Dominguez with AmWINS Brokerage of Georgia.